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Everyone Needs a Coach-Mentor

I say it all the time: "Everyone needs a coach!" Even the greatest of athletes, have someone who coaches them in their sport, in the personal fitness, and even in their mindset.

One of the most important concepts that an individual can have in his or her life is personal guidance. None of us, by ourselves, is an expert on how to do life. We not only need help in the process of growing up, but I believe we all need help once we have grown up and become an adult as well.

There is a subtle difference between a coach and a mentor. Coaching is more performance driven, designed to improve the professional's on-the-job performance. Mentoring is more development driven, looking not just at the professional's current job function but beyond, taking a more holistic approach to career development.

Mentoring is a long-term process based on mutual trust and respect. Coaching, on the other hand, is for a short period of time. Mentoring is more focused on creating an informal association between the mentor and mentee, whereas coaching follows a more structured and formal approach.

I believe that one of the most valuable experiences I have had in my life is being mentored by someone who has modeled for me the kind of life I want to possess. Since I have never been older than I am right now, I need someone who is a little further down the road than I am to give me wise counsel and direction. I found someone who is where I want to be when I get to their stage in life. That’s what I am talking about - someone who can be your coach and mentor; someone who can give you guidance.

There is an old saying that a duck cannot teach a chicken how to become a chicken. A duck is designed to swim and to float in water, but a chicken is made to live life on land. It is much better for ducks to teach their ducklings how to be ducks and leave the instruction of chicks to chickens. I know that sounds silly, but I am going somewhere with this thought if you will track with me for just a few moments.

In our culture, women typically have the majority of the child-rearing responsibility. I know this isn’t true 100% of the time, but in many cases it is. I, myself, had a wonderful mother and will always appreciate all she meant to me and taught me in my lifetime. However, I don’t believe a woman can teach a little boy how to become a man. Neither do I think a man can teach a little girl how to become a woman. I think it is important that boys be taught by men how to become men and little girls have mature women help them learn how to become women. This is not a process that happens over night. It takes time and a lot of patience, love and commitment. Now, don’t get me wrong - I also believe a woman can teach a boy a lot about life and that a man can teach his daughters many things. I have a daughter of my own and I think a dad should actively participate in teaching his daughter lessons about life. That is a necessary part of the formula. However, I will repeat myself and say that only a man can teach a little boy how to grow up and become a man and only a woman can teach a little girl how to grow up to become a woman. It is just a fact of life.

Mentoring is not only true in family life, but it is true in the work world as well. Today we advocate going to college to earn a degree and then getting a job in that field. And, while that process may be a good thing, how many people do you know who have graduated from college with a degree in a particular academic discipline and are not even working in that field or using the information they spent so much time and money learning? I would bet it is a lot!

This is one of the largest complaints with our educational system. What is at the heart of this issue? I believe it is the fact that a person learns a lot of general information but has not had someone model for them and personally mentor them, to give them a practical skill set that they can use in a particular endeavor in life.

The educational model we use today is a fairly recent development. For hundreds of years, people learned a trade through an apprenticeship model. Those who wanted to learn a trade found someone who already knew how to perform that task and studied with them for several years until they had learned all of the necessary skills. If a person wanted to learn how to become a blacksmith, he got a job at the local blacksmith shop and received on-the-job training. If a woman wanted to learn to be a seamstress or clothing designer, a person who was already skilled in that craft would be found and the young woman would be tutored until she was skilled as well. That model worked successfully for many, many years. The reason it was so successful is because someone modeled the role of the job and mentored another person in the process until they learned the skill for themselves.

If you have any years under your belt, you can probably look back and see how you could have perhaps saved a lot of time, effort and energy if you had only had someone give you more guidance early in your life. It is unfortunate that so many of us spend most of our life trying to find what we are good at or how to perform certain skills alone without the help of someone older and wiser and more skilled than we are ourselves.

Has anyone ever directed you away from doing something you thought you wanted to do but they had personal experience you did not possess? That can be a valuable experience saving you years of wasted time, money and heartache.

I have a friend who shared his personal experience with me. When he was young, he thought he wanted to be a dentist. He went to talk to his own dentist about that process. The dentist took the time to explain many things he did not know about being a dentist. After his conversation, he decided he no longer wanted to be a dentist. He really was not well-suited for that vocation. My friend later told me that he will always be grateful for the insight and guidance he received from his dentist.

That’s what I am talking about. It can be a very positive experience, if you can just find someone who is already doing what you think you would like to do. Finding a mentor and asking them for guidance and help is wisdom at its best!

Regardless of where you are in life, take the time to find someone who is doing what you would like to do. Make an appointment to talk with them. Tell them that they are a role model to you and ask them if they would be willing to mentor you in the process. I realize that these projects take time, effort and commitment, but if you can find someone who is willing to work with you, it may save you years of frustration and take you to a level of success quicker than you thought possible and certainly faster than if you were doing it alone. You may even need to hire a personal coach to help you, but that expense may be one of the best investments you will ever make. It is concept that is worthy of your consideration! A good mentor can save you a lot of money, years of frustration, and help make your life go a lot better. I know from first hand experience it works!

Dr. Eddie Rivero is recognized and acknowledged for demonstrating excellence and eloquence as a Global Leadership Trainer, Speaker and Coach. His goal is to encourage others to reach their highest potential, while being a positive influence in their environment. This training style is based on a personal conviction that Dr. Rivero hold near to his heart; We can change our communities by changing our culture. We change our culture by influencing the way persons think. Dr. Rivero holds various certifications: Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team, Specialist with Global Priority Solutions, DISC Behavioral Specialist with Personality Insights, and Marriage Trainer and Facilitator with SYMBIS. Dr. Rivero is also a member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains and facilitates leadership and ethics training with police and firefighters in the USA and other countries.

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